Renowned for its rich and diverse culinary heritage, Vietnam is also home to some of the world’s most exceptional Arabica coffee varieties. Nestled in the highlands and lush landscapes, these prized coffee beans thrive, offering coffee lovers a unique sensory experience. In this exploration of Vietnam’s finest Arabica coffee varieties, we will journey through the country’s renowned coffee-growing regions, unveil the secrets of their distinctive flavor profiles, and shed light on the dedication and craftsmanship of local farmers.
So, please grab a cup and join us as we embark on a captivating adventure to uncover the essence of Vietnam’s finest Arabica coffee offerings.
Arabica Coffee Varieties: Growing Areas in Vietnam
Lam Dong province in Vietnam, blessed by nature with its climate and land, boasts over 200,000 hectares of basaltic red soil, primarily at 500 to 1,700 meters. With an average temperature of 18-26°C and average annual rainfall ranging from 1,800 to 2,600mm, these conditions are ideal for cultivating all three coffee types: Robusta, Liberica, and exceptionally high-quality Arabica. By the end of 2018, the coffee and tea growing area spanned 13,685.2 hectares, making up 7.85% of the province’s total coffee area.
The average yield was 28.6 quintals per hectare, producing an output of 36,098.4 tons. Coffee and tea cultivation is concentrated primarily in Da Lat (4,150 hectares) and Lac Duong (4,079.8 hectares), with the remaining area dispersed across Don Duong, Duc Trong, Lam Ha, and Dam Rong districts. Over the years, Lam Dong coffee and tea have built domestic and international reputations, earning two exclusive trademarks granted by the National Office of Intellectual Property in 2015 and 2016: “Arabica Langbiang Coffee” in Lac Duong and “Coffee Cau Dat Da Lat” in Da Lat.
Since 2013, Lam Dong province has implemented guidelines, policies, and programs to support coffee cultivation, including the replanting and renovation program linked to sustainable coffee development, the schedule for upgrading and enhancing plant variety quality, and the VnSAT project.
These initiatives have supported and encouraged residents, businesses, and farm owners to transition to cultivating high-quality coffee varieties (Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Pacamara, etc.) and adopt organic production practices and certification, thereby improving product quality and value in association with the “Da Lat – Miraculously Crystallized from Healthy Soil” brand. In early 2019, Lam Dong’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recognized 14 elite coffee plants (10 Typica and 4 Bourbon) for six households. It supported implementing two coffee and tea nursery models in the city.
Catimor (Coffea arabica L. cv. Catimor)
The Catimor variety is a hybrid resulting from the crossbreeding of Hybrid de Timor and Caturra coffee plants.
This variety features a low tree with a compact canopy and short internodes, closely resembling the appearance of the Caturra breed. Young leaves display a pale bronze hue, while mature leaves are dark green with wavy edges. The Catimor trees can grow freely to heights of 2 to 3 meters.
The first level branches are short, measuring between 0.8 and 1.2 meters on average, and the canopy diameter ranges from 1.2 to 1.5 meters. The internodes are also short, measuring 4 to 5 centimeters, and the primary branches grow at an angle of about 65 degrees from the main stem.
The fruits and seeds are medium-sized, turning red when ripe. One hundred kernels weigh between 13 and 16 grams, and the fresh-to-kernel ratio varies from 4.5 to 7 kilograms, depending on growing conditions and care.
The Catimor variety boasts a high branching capacity at the second level, resulting in high yields. It is well-adapted to drought conditions and the climate of low-altitude areas (800 to 1,200 meters). The recommended planting density for this variety is approximately 5,000 trees per hectare.
In terms of taste, the Catimor variety is considered to have quite good quality. It demonstrates high resistance to most physiological strains of rust. However, due to extensive cultivation and propagation over numerous generations, Catimor is somewhat susceptible to rust disease.
Typica Coffee Variety (Coffea arabica. L. var. Typica)
This coffee tree variety features a conical shape and can grow up to 5 meters tall in natural conditions. The young leaves exhibit pale purple or bronze hues, while mature leaves are elongated, with pointed tips and less wavy margins.
The primary branches are weak, forming an angle greater than 80 degrees with the main trunk and drooping downward. The tree has a medium-sized canopy, numerous secondary branches, and long internodes.
The tree produces small clusters of flowers and fruits, typically ranging from 5 to 10 fruits per bundle. The fruits and seeds are large and oblong, with protrusions, and the ripe fruits are red.
The yield potential for this variety is relatively low. It is susceptible to rust disease, dry branches, and nematodes.
The tree thrives in elevations above 1,300 meters, a cool climate, and low light intensity. The recommended planting density for this coffee variety ranges from 3,000 to 4,000 plants per hectare.
Among the varieties of coffee and tea currently grown, this particular variety is considered to have a delicious taste.
Discovering Vietnam’s Finest Arabica Coffee Varieties
Bourbon variety (Coffea arabica L. var. Bourbon)
Discovering Vietnam’s Finest Arabica Coffee Varieties: Bourbon
The tree is cylindrical, tall, with a large canopy, the tree can be 4-6m high. The young leaves are light green, the leaf blade is bulbous, the leaf tail is short, the leaf edge is wavy.
Strong level 1 branches are compatible with the trunk at an angle less than 80 0 . The tree has the ability to have a lot of secondary branching, medium burning internodes.
The number of flowers and fruits on each node is higher than that of Typica, ranging from 10 to 20 fruits/bundle. The fruit and seeds are medium in size and gourd in shape, red or yellow when ripe.
Medium yield potential, prefers cool conditions, moderate light intensity and suitable planting density from 3,000 to 4,000 plants/ha. Susceptible to rust disease, dry branches and nematodes.
The quality of the tasting is classified as very good.
Caturra Variety (Coffea arabica L. var. Caturra)
The Caturra variety comes in two forms, one with a red Typica-like fruit when ripe called Caturra rojo and another with a yellow color when ripe called Caturra Amarillo.
These two forms appear identical except for the ripe fruit color. Caturra was originally a variant of the Bourbon breed selected in Brazil.
Young leaves are light green; the leaf blade is slightly oval, wavy. The tree is low, not more than 3m high, the canopy is narrow, the internodes are short, the secondary branching ability is much, the trunk is solid and fat.
The fruit and seeds are medium in size, short in gourd shape, and look like black coffee.
The number of flowers and fruits on burning is 20-30 fruits. Yellow fruit usually gives a higher yield than red fruit.
This variety has drought tolerance, strong light intensity in low altitude areas. Suitable for planting at a density of about 5,000 trees/ha and at an altitude of over 1,300m.
Very susceptible to rust, Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) and nematodes. The quality of the tasting is classified as delicious.
Discovering Vietnam’s Finest Arabica Coffee Varieties: Caturra yellow
Pacamara Variety (Coffea arabica L. var. Pacamara)
The Pacamara variety crosses the Pacas breed and the Maragogype breed.
The tree is medium tall; the canopy is small and compact, and the internodes are short. In appearance, it is not much different from the Caturra breed. Young leaves are bronze brown and slightly rounded; Mature leaves are large, slightly rounded, thick, dark green, with little wavy margins. Tree to grow freely, with a height of 2 – 3m.
The length of the first level branches is short, averaging from 0.8 – 1.2m. Canopy diameter from 1.2 – 1.5m. The size of the internode is from 5 to 6 cm. Level 1 branches straighten up to create an angle of about 65 degrees with the main stem, the ability to branch level 2 is much
Average yield potential and adaptation to climate conditions in areas with elevation >1,300m. Suitable for growing in conditions of interaction with plants and shading about 50% of light, planting density is about 5,000 plants/ha.
The fruit is large, slightly long, with a knob on the tip, and red when ripe. Large kernel size and fresh / kernel ratio vary from 5 – 6kg depending on growing conditions and care.
Brix degree >16 and tasting quality is classified as very good. Moderately susceptible to rust, dry fruit, and nematodes.
Discovering Vietnam’s Finest Arabica Coffee Varieties: Pacamara
THA1 Coffee Variety
- Selected by: Central Highlands Agro-Forestry Science and Technology Institute.
- Genetic Source: F5 generation pedigree selection line from TN1 hybrid (KH 3-1 x Catimor).
Yield: 2.45 tons of kernels per hectare, potentially exceeding 3.0 tons in intensive farming depending on the region.
Growth: Vigorous growth, low tree phenotype, and interlocking branches.
Canopy: Compact canopy with abundant branching, short primary branches, suitable for dense planting.
Leaves: Medium-sized, oblong leaves with wavy edges. Mature leaves are dark green, while young buds are light green.
Fruit: Ripe fruit color is bright red; fruit shape is oval; clusters of thick fruit, large-sized.
Seeds: Fresh-to-kernel ratio is 5.6; weight of 100 kernels is 17.3g; grade 1 seeds make up 84.9% of the total.
Tasting Quality: Rated very good, scoring 82 out of 100 on the SCAA scale.
Resistance: Highly resistant to rust.
Discovering Vietnam’s Finest Arabica Coffee Varieties: THA1
The F1 hybrid was bred by the Central Highland Agroforestry Science Institute in 1991. The grafted tree was medium-sized, low-growing, the canopy was small and compact, the internodes were short. In appearance is not much different from the Catimor breed. After 30 months of planting, the tree is 157cm high, the first level branch length is about 70 – 75cm and there are 19 nodes. Level 1 branches straighten to create an angle of 55 – 60 0 with the main stem . The fruit is quite good, ripe with red color, weighing 100 kernels per 16g, fresh/core ratio is as low as 5.5 – 6.0 depending on growing conditions. High level of branching ability and very high yield potential. Very high resistance to rust. The average yield is 3.5 – 4.0 tons of kernels/ha depending on the cultivation area.
Discovering Vietnam’s Finest Arabica Coffee Varieties: TN1
The F1 hybrid was bred by the Central Highlands Institute of Forestry Science and Technology in 1993. The grafted tree was medium-sized, low-growing, the canopy was small and compact, the internodes were short. In appearance, it is not much different from the Catimor breed. After 30 months of planting, the tree is 140cm high, the first branch length is about 75 – 80cm and there are more than 20 nodes. Level 1 branches straighten to create an angle of 55 – 60 0 with the main stem . The fruit is quite good, ripe with red color, weight of 100 kernels per 14.5g, fresh/core ratio is low, about 5.5 – 6 depending on growing conditions. High level of branching ability and very high yield potential. Almost very resistant to physiological strains of rust. The average yield in the business period is 3.0 – 3.5 tons of kernels/ha.
Discovering Vietnam’s Finest Arabica Coffee Varieties: TN2